Would You Talk To A Friend That Way?

smidgen-1If you follow my blog, you know that I have an adult daughter with autism. For us, this means that we live our lives very explicitly and literally. Everything is talked about. Most parents think this sound wonderful, having a child that tells you everything. But I frequently walk away from our conversations shaking and wishing just a little could be held back. A smidge?

Ok, so a recurring theme for us is self-esteem.  Despite my best efforts to push my wonderful, beautiful daughter towards my own recent realizations about health and body acceptance, she is destined to follow in my footsteps: That is, she is dieting. She is very focused and determined, but also overwhelmed and struggling.  As with most diets, her initial efforts were rewarded with slow but steady weight loss.  However, after losing about 35 pounds, her weight loss has stalled. And after three weeks of dieting and exercise she has lost exactly 0 pounds.

This has led to many a tear-streamed meltdowns.

rupaulWhat can I say to her? She is angry and frustrated and wants me to do something. (Seriously, if I had these answers, I’d be a millionaire with my own tv show, right?) Diets don’t work, I tell her, and give her so many reasons why. But she is exactly where I was at her age. Determined to fix it. Frustrated that the “calories in-calories out” method (and every other method) doesn’t work. And feeling like a failure.

Then she starts in with the self-abusive talk. She hates her body. She feels like a failure. She’s stupid, weak…

I ask her, “Would you talk to a friend that way?” She stops and looks at me, but I’m serious, not making a joke.  If a friend was trying to lose weight, doing everything “right” and not getting results, would you tell them they were a failure? That they were stupid and weak?” Of course not.

“What would you tell them?” I asked, and she seriously considered before answering.

“I’d probably tell them they look beautiful the way they are. That they don’t need to lose weight.” Her lip starts to tremble and tears flow. “Why can’t I say that to myself?” she asks. “I know it in my head, but I just can’t believe it about myself.” How come she got it in 20 years when it took me 48?

So this is my theory, unscientific and unproven, but I like it anyway. I honestly and firmly believe you can’t have long-term success at health, weight loss, or pretty much any self-improvement, if you don’t start by learning to love yourself. Who wants to do good things for someone they hate? Who wants to invest time and energy in someone unless they are worthy of that time and energy? Learning to live a healthy lifestyle, sticking to an exercise program, eating foods that nourish and don’t destroy you are acts of love. They take extra time, attention, and effort. They take love.

47f5c4827e3c5ab95de6bb1f9f287719This was the hardest part of my journey to learn, and I’m still learning it. I follow the wise words of body-love bloggers, tweeters, and sisters (my sisters rock, yo!), and while I’m not 100% there, I’m getting better and stronger every day.

I used to think the Pink! song “Don’t Let Me Get Me” was my personal anthem. I wanted to break up with myself. It’s only been recently that I’ve started thinking that might be the problem. About two years ago I decided to stop punishing myself and start treating myself like someone I loved. It didn’t happen all at once, but gradually over time I built up a repertoire of ways to spoil myself and let me know I cared.

This is a case of the actions leading to the feelings (fake it till you make it). I act like I love myself, and in time I actually find I do. Here are some of the things I do to help give me the strength to start to be who I want to be:

  • 2e57b67b41c1c5ce75ee3ae8e19621ffPampering myself with massages, mani-pedis, and haircuts as often as I can afford to.
  • Looking at myself in the mirror every day, and looking for what I like best in the reflection.
  • Letting people take pics of me, taking selfies (it’s not a bad word) with my loved ones, and posting pics on my social networks. I have more pics of me from the past year and a half than from the previous 10 put together. I don’t Photoshop out fat, wrinkles or birthmarks.
  • Buy myself beautiful clothes that I love, rather than waiting until I’m a specific size, because damn it, I’m worth it.
  • Taking some time for myself every day, even when work is super busy, and my personal life is super crazy.

Your list would probably look different, but do you have a list? If not, maybe it is time to start wooing yourself a little. It doesn’t have to be about things that cost money (although jewelry is always nice) but about giving yourself permission to feel good about you. After that, everything else gets easier.


7 thoughts on “Would You Talk To A Friend That Way?

  1. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Such a reminder. I love that your daughter (with your help) “got it.” It’s true. I was just talking about this same thing with a friend of mine today. Not even 4 hours ago. This bad self talk is a wide spread problem! We all do it! We’ve got to stop it. I’ve always liked myself, in theory, but the package of the last 7 years, has been hard to live with. And sweet me, I was so mean and frankly, nasty to myself. I would not dream of saying things like that to anyone, not even people I’m not fond of, so why to myself? As I’ve lost a few pounds, and become more conscious of what I think and say to me, we’ve become friends again… the REAL me and the talking me. Best wishes!! Thanks for the thoughtful post. You’re daughter’s lucky to have a mom like you, and no doubt you, her.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, everything yes!

    It takes a long time to get self love, but you have to make time for it, and you need SELF CARE!

    I started years ago with the rule of “No Self Deprecating Humor”. Years ago I was always down on myself, mocking myself as if that would excuse me, I asked my friends for help and when I get down on me they reminded me of my rule.

    Next step was the fake it till you make it bit. Act like you are the coolest person in the world, and one day you may believe it.

    Selfies, pictures of yourself, are a must. Don’t be missing from events, get in those pictures, and share them. It took me a long time to not make my tummy a little smaller, and to fix my arms, but now, with my cell I love taking pictures and uploading without even a filter, it feels empowering.

    Buy more mirrors! I’m on this step now. I bought two big mirrors recently, I have one in the living room and one in my office. This lets me look at myself and check myself out, I can look at myself now and like what I see. I compliment myself and find things to love.

    treat yourself, self care is important. find the things that make you feel good and do them. I take baths with nice bath stuff. Buy myself fun underthings (its my thing). Add color to my hair. Take the time to do my hair the way I like it. Treat myself to sushi every now and then, esp when I feel like I deserve it.

    Don’t punish yourself. I’m living more in the Health at Every Size method, with intuitive eating and activity that I like (OK LOVE) not depriving myself of food (I love food, I love cooking, sharing with others, I love the whole experience of it) and not forcing myself to workout at the gym doing things I hate, instead I bike, I do martial arts, I walk, I do what I like. It’s a form of treating myself.

    Now that I have all of this self love I share it with others. When I hear my friends talk bad about themselves I say “Don’t talk about my friend that way” and try to help them see themselves as I see them. Sadly, it doesn’t work well until they can get it, till they decide to start loving themselves.


  3. Pingback: TBT: Would You Talk To A Friend Like That? | fitfatrun

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